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Durham Music Societies

Durham University offers a unique opportunity to become part of a thriving community of student-run societies. Whether you are interested in directing, producing, performing or working back-stage there is an inexhaustible list of ways to get involved with your societies of choice. Durham student societies are exceptional in that they are totally controlled by the students that run them, giving everyone the opportunity to take part in ambitious, dynamic and creative ventures in whichever way they can. And if there is not yet a society for your area(s) of interest, then Music Durham will do everything they can to help you set up your own society. Here is a list of some of the student-run societies operating around Durham University within Music Durham.

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“The incredibly diverse musical life of Durham astounds me still - nowhere else could someone perform the Countess (Marriage of Figaro), Renaissance music in the Chapter House of the Cathedral, a female barbershop gig for a Royal College of Surgeons function, one-to-a-part Purcell, Spem in Alium, and saxophone quartet gigs in the same month! ”

Emily Owen, Graduated June 2010 from Hatfield College

Durham University Orchestral Society

Durham University Orchestral Society, the University's leading orchestral society, is comprised of Symphony and Chamber orchestras. DUOS prides itself on being entirely student run and covers a large array of demanding orchestral repertoire throughout the academic year. DUOS is also the longest running orchestral society in Durham, celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2015. The society frequently has visiting professionals from the Northern Sinfonia and RNCM to offer additional tuition. It has recently had a work commissioned by John Casken featuring the university’s chancellor, Sir Thomas Allen, as soloist, which was performed in the anniversary Cathedral concert and will remain one of the highlights of the society’s recent years. Each year DUOS goes on tour in the Easter vacation, with recent destinations including Madrid, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, and Barcelona. This year it is very excited to be performing in Budapest. Its members are auditioned at the start of each academic year and positions for conductors, soloists and leaders towards the end. Please visit the website or Facebook page for more information on the society, how to join, and support opportunities!

Durham University Orchestral Society

Durham University Chamber Choir

Durham University Chamber Choir has been called the foremost student-run choir in Durham, providing the highest standard of choral music in concerts throughout the year.  Formed of twenty of the finest singers of the University, the Chamber Choir performs regularly in Durham Cathedral and large scale venues across the country.

Durham University Choral Society

The Durham University Choral Society, affectionately known as DUCS, is one of Durham University's largest and oldest musical groups, having performed continuously at a high standard for around seventy years. The society is very friendly and welcoming to new members and you will soon feel right at home singing with us every Monday!

Every year, DUCS members perform in a variety of concerts at iconic venues such as Durham Cathedral, with quality accompaniment from fellow Durham student musicians (for example the Durham University Orchestral Society). Professional soloists are employed for our concerts, but experienced singers in the society receive many opportunities for solos and smaller ensemble singing - the society is proud of its range of talent.

Musical direction comes from our new conductor, Michael Summers, with a repertoire drawn from across the Classical spectrum - Bach to Bernstein.

New members are recruited with short auditions which test vocal range, sight-reading ability and aural skill. Although commitment to weekly rehearsals on Monday evenings is essential, the society is welcoming and sociable. Few forget the experience of singing with dozens of friends to a full capacity audience in the magnificent Durham Cathedral.

For more information, please visit our website ( or our Facebook page (

Durham University Concert Band

Durham University Concert Band is a non-auditioning band open to all brass, woodwind and percussion players. Its aim is to create a relaxed and informal atmosphere where everyone feels welcome, at the same time as playing music to an excellent standard. The conductors always seek to choose music which is both accessible and musically challenging, and the band's repertoire is vast and varied - last year this included film scores, Broadway musicals, full concert band suites, contemporary compositions and classical works. The band rehearses weekly on Sunday afternoons and usually performs at least three concerts per year. In recent years, DUCB have also started to develop links within the local community and now hope to run an annual outreach event working with children from local primary schools. They also hold frequent socials throughout the year, which in the past have included everything from band meals and bar crawls to summer ice-creams by the river.

For more information visit us here or on the Music Durham website

Durham Opera Ensemble

Durham Opera Ensemble (DOE) is a vibrant student society involved in the performance and appreciation of opera. They produce 2 or 3 productions each year, with the cast, orchestra and production team all drawn from the student body.
Over the last few years DOE has put on a large work during Epiphany term in Castle Great Hall. In conjunction with Durham University Orchestral Society (DUOS), recent productions have included Bizet's 'Carmen', Johann Strauss' 'Die Fledermaus' and Vaughan-Williams' 'The Poisoned Kiss'. Along with similar scale and smaller works in a variety of venues around Durham, the society also puts on an annual concert of opera excerpts entitled Opera Favourites.
For further information about the society and our current and past productions, please visit their website here... Alternatively, feel free to contact the exec at

DUPO (Durham University Palatinate Orchestra)


The Durham University Palatinate Orchestra is one of Durham's leading Symphony orchestras. With its membership approaching 80 in number this year, the orchestra is going from strength to strength performing some very challenging but exciting repertoire. Past concerts have included; Tchaikovsky Symphony No.s 4 and 6, Brahms Symphony No. 2, Shostakovich Jazz Suite No. 2, Walton Prelude and Fugue 'The Spitfire', Sibelius Symphony No. 5 and many other great pieces.

They are a relaxed and friendly auditioning orchestra who produced music to a high level whilst enjoying an active social scene too. An annual tour ends the year after an intense set of rehearsals during 'DUPO week' which gives the orchestra a chance to do something different after exams. Purely student run, their aim is to provide orchestral musicians with a place to play challenging but fun repertoire in a welcoming atmosphere, ending each term's work with a concert of very high quality music. Auditions take place at the start of each academic year.

Durham University Hill Orchestra

Durham University Hill Orchestra (also known as DUHO) is a student-run, non-auditioned orchestra which maintains a fun, relaxed atmosphere while striving for a high musical standard. Despite our name we accept all Durham students who wish to perform with us. We play a wide range of orchestral music, from film music such as John Williams’ Star Wars, to more classical repertoire such as Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. Our rehearsals take place at 8 – 10pm on Wednesday nights in St. Aidan’s College Dining Hall. We perform in two concerts at the end of Michaelmas and Epiphany terms, and after exams in the Summer term we have gone on tour to such locations as to Paris, the Netherlands, Belgium and Edinburgh.

Durham University Brass Band

The Durham University Brass Band is a vibrant society committed to showing the university the meaning of banding! Based in the music department, we rehearse weekly and put on regular concerts, perform for a variety of events and also participate in a national brass band competition. Except for certain positions, the band is non auditioning, promoting the ethos of inclusion and welcoming players of all abilities. We play a wide variety of music from traditional brass band marches and Proms style classics, to your favourite 90s hits, much of it written and arranged by our own players.